Squarefootball's Team of the Week - Week 20
2014 started with a bang in the Barclays Premier League as Arsenal left it late to beat Cardiff City, Man City were too strong for the Swans and Chelsea put three past Southampton to ensure the top three sides all kicked off the new year with three points.
Liverpool bounced back from consecutive defeats to move back into the top four with a deserved win over Hull City, while Merseyside rivals Everton needed a last-gasp penalty to take a share of the spoils away at Stoke City. Tottenham Hotspur also got the new year off to a winning start with a controversial 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.
At the other end of the table it was a bleak day for Sunderland and West Ham as they were gunned down by Aston Villa and Fulham respectively, leaving them to occupy the bottom two places in the league.
A total of 25 goals were scored in the Premier League and three players were shown red, but who has made it into the first Squarefootball's Team of the Week of 2014?
Goalkeeper - Jussi Jaaskelanien (West Ham United)
Fulham were battered by Hull City in their final game of 2013, but the Cottagers could have started 2014 by dishing out a thrashing of their own against the hapless Hammers. West Ham took the lead but shot themselves in the foot with Kevin Nolan's second red card in a matter of games. Sam Allardyce's sinking ship should have been sunk by Fulham, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was on hand to keep the score down for the visitors with some super saves.
Defender - Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
The Serbian international was sensational in terrible conditions at the Liberty Stadium. Kolarov made some key interceptions during the game against Swansea and scored a wonderful goal having run 60 yards. Top performance.
Defender - Daniel Agger (Liverpool)
The Norwegian international scored his first goal since April to put Liverpool in the lead and kept Hull City at bay with an assured display at the back.
Defender - Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)
The former Spurs man was desperate to dent the Gunners' title hopes and it looked like he was going to realise his goal until Nicklas Bendtner popped up in the 88th minute. Caulker made some great defensive blocks and was unfortunate to be on the losing side.
Defender - Vlad Chiriches (Spurs)
The Romanian international was on the top of his game as Spurs won back-to-back games at Old Trafford. The 24-year-old made some excellent interceptions and clearances as Spurs started 2014 with all three points.
Midfield - Morgan Amalfitano (West Brom)
The Frenchman gave Davide Santon a day to forget as the Baggies' midfielder terrorised the Italian for the whole 90 minutes. Santon just couldn't cope with Amalfitano's skill and creativity. He created clear-cut chances for Brunt and Anelka in the first half.
Midfield - Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Wilshere was Arsenal's star man on New Year's Day. He stepped up to the plate in Ramsey's and Ozil's absence to be the main creative cog in the Arsenal machine. Wilshere drove the team forward, was always on the ball and on another day could have scored and had a hat-trick of assists to his name. As it was, he had to settle for the assist for Walcott's winner. A wonderful showing by the England international.
Midfield - Scott Parker (Fulham)
It was a close call between Parker and his team-mate Steve Sidwell, but despite Sidwell scoring the goal that drew the Cottagers level, it's the former West Ham man Parker who gets the nod. Parker put in a man of the match display as Fulham battered the Hammers. Everything good offensively for Fulham came through Parker and Berbatov scored thanks to the midfielder's assist.
Midfield - Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
The midfield powerhouse settled the game with City's second, but his all-round display was first class. Sometimes he looks as though he is not interested. Unfortunately for Swansea, he really fancied this game. Toure was a beast in midfield and out-muscled his rivals in the centre of the pitch.
Striker - Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)
The Swans' record signing scored twice against the champions elect but not even that was enough to earn even a share of the spoils. Bony was a constant threat when he was in possession of the ball and scored with two fine efforts and was unlucky not to score a third.
Striker - Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Hull City boss believes Suarez is the best player in the world right now and he got to see the Uruguayan first hand on Wednesday. Suarez popped up with a stunning free kick and was a constant threat. Will Suarez ever have a bad game?
Team of the Week - Manchester City
The general consensus seems to be that the Premier League title is theirs for the taking. Some clubs may buckle under that pressure but City - who have suffered away from home this season - showed their togetherness as they beat Swansea at the Liberty. Despite the 2-3 scoreline, the three points were never in any doubt.
Goal of the Week - Willian (Chelsea)
Willian came off the bench and, along with Oscar, changed the game at Southampton. His blistering strike from the edge of the box gave Kelvin Davis no chance.
Manager of the Week - Tim Sherwood (Spurs)
Old Trafford may not be the fortress it once was, but full marks to Tim Sherwood for leaving the home of the champions with all three points. Spurs rode their luck at times - and David Moyes was left seething by some refereeing decisions - but they took full advantage of some lax defending. Unbeaten in the league, Sherwood must be wondering what all the fuss about being a manager is about.
Clown of the Week - Kevin Nolan (West Ham United)
Your team are in the bottom three and your manager has been forced to send out a makeshift side, the last thing you want is for your captain to be sent off. Nobody knows if Nolan was provoked or not, but the former Newcastle man is old enough and wise enough to know that he shouldn't lose his head. His actions have enraged the West Ham faithful.
Well that's what we think here at Squarefootball HQ. Do you agree? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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